Quality for Poultry
is the most important nutrient for poultry; survival time is
limited in its absence. Birds can survive for longer periods
without any other nutrient than they can survive without water.
water is regarded as the most essential nutrient, it is impossible
to state its exact requirements. Birds generally drink
approximately twice as much water as the amount of feed consumed
on a weight basis. During periods of extreme heat stress, water
requirements may easily quadruple.
the importance of providing a sufficient amount of water or
adequate access to it is well accepted, the importance of water
quality on performance is often overlooked. Water quality
attributes can have a direct or indirect effect on performance.
High levels of bacterial contaminants, minerals, or other
pollutants in drinking water can have detrimental effects on
normal physiological properties resulting in inferior performance.
quality can be evaluated by a number of criteria. It can be
difficult, however, to describe good quality drinking water for
poultry because many of the standards have been derived from
recommendations for other species of animals or from human
standards. In many cases, guidelines have been established based
on mortality and not deficiencies in performance. Submitting a
water sample annually for analysis should be an important part of
good water management. The results of the analysis should be
interpreted appropriately to determine the proper course of
action. The following are some of the most important factors that
influence water quality.
water should be clear, tasteless, odorless, and colorless. As a
general observation, a reddish-brown color may indicate the
presence of iron, while a blue color indicates the presence of
copper. Hydrogen sulfide is indicated by a rotten egg odor.
Hydrogen sulfide may also combine with iron to form black water
(iron sulfide) that may also implicate the presence of
sulfate-reducing bacteria. Taste can be affected by the presence
of salts, and a bitter taste is usually associated with the
presence of ferrous and manganese sulfates.
presence of microorganisms is typically a result of surface
contamination by organic materials and can result in poor
performance. The presence of Coliform bacteria is generally
related to fecal contamination of drinking water due to runoff to
surface or ground waters. Ideally, bacterial contaminants should
not be present in drinking water and measurable levels should be
zero. Chlorination or filtration of the water supply can eliminate
bacterial contaminants. Samples taken for bacterial testing should
be obtained in a sterile manner and may need to be taken at the
source and at strategic points to localize any problems.
acidity or alkalinity of water is measured by pH. A pH of 7
indicates that the water is neutral, a pH less than 7 indicates
acidity, and a pH greater than 7 indicates alkalinity. Low pH
water can be unpalatable, corrosive to equipment, and may have a
negative impact on performance. High pH water is also unacceptable
since it reflects high levels of calcium and magnesium, which can
clog watering systems. Poultry accept water on the acid side
better than they accept water on the alkaline side. Municipal
water systems may range in pH from 7 to 9 depending on their water
sources. So even municipal waters need the ph adjusted to Gppm
with acid injection.
refers to the presence of dissolved minerals such as calcium and
magnesium in either bicarbonate or sulfate form and is expressed
as an equivalent of calcium carbonate. It measures. the tendency
of water to precipitate soap and form scale. Hard water is
commonly associated with the buildup of deposits and the formation
of scale in the components of the watering system. Hardness is not
commonly harmful to poultry unless certain ions are present in
toxic amounts. High levels of magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) may cause
an increase in water consumption, wet droppings and a drop in
production. Extreme hardness may diminish the effectiveness of
water administered medications, disinfectants and cleaning agents.
wide variety of minerals are commonly found in drinking water.
Normally, they are found in relatively low concentrations and
cause no harm.
contamination of water supplies usually occurs in the form of
nitrates and nitrites. Both are a result of biological decay of
animal or plant matter, chemical fertilizers, or animal wastes.
The presence of nitrates often suggests bacterial contamination,
since their presence is often a direct result of the seepage of
surface water from surrounding fields that were fertilized by
either chemicals or animal manures.
itself is not toxic. After ingestion, however, it is converted to
the toxic form of nitrite by microorganisms found in the
intestinal tract of the animal. Once absorbed into the
bloodstream, nitrite binds strongly to hemoglobin and, thereby,
reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Chronic nitrate
toxicity causes poor growth, anorexia, and poor coordination.
Studies demonstrate that nitrate nitrogen levels in the drinking
water as low as 3 to 5 mg/It depress broiler growth rate.
concentrations of sulfates can combine with magnesium to form
Epsom salt or with sodium salts that cause a laxative effect and
can result in wet lifter. High concentrations of sodium or
chloride may also increase water consumption and increase lifter
moisture. High levels of sulfate may also interfere with the
intestinal absorption of other minerals such as copper.
levels of magnesium are only a problem in the presence of high
sulfate levels since they combine to form Epsom salt. The
formation of scale in the watering system can be attributed to
high levels of or combinations of sulfate, magnesium, or calcium.
levels of iron may encourage the growth of bacteria, which can
lead to diarrhea. When the ferrous form of iron present in well
water is exposed to the air, it is converted to the ferric
hydroxide form commonly referred to as rusty water.
contaminants in the water may include pesticides, herbicides,
industrial residues, petroleum products, and heavy metals such as
lead or cadmium. Such contaminants are more difficult to detect
and require more costly testing procedures.
methods are available that can reduce or eliminate the impurities
that adversely affect water quality. Options include the following.
Chlorination is the most common method used to treat water for
bacterial contamination and effectively eliminate bacteria from the
water supply. Chlorine can be administered through an in-line
proportioner. General recommendations are to have a level of 3 to 5
ppm of free available chlorine at the drinker farthest from the
proportioner. Chlorine levels can be easily monitored using a
chlorine high range test kit.
Use water softening equipment to reduce hardness. Most softening
equipment uses ion exchange to effectively remove the calcium and
magnesium ions and replace them with sodium ions. Level of TDS,
however, are simply substituted and increases in sodium
concentration of the water occur, possible to unacceptable levels.
Poultry are generally sensitive to increases in sodium levels, so
producers should be judicial in their selection and use of water
Polyphosphates are chemical compounds used primarily to prevent the
buildup of scale in the watering systems. They act to cause mineral
contaminants to go into solution more readily.
Pro, Inc 1-800-850-2423